Culinary TrailsCulture Trails

JAIPUR– A Cultural Kaleidoscope.

“Amidst the many electric auto-rickshaws, a colorfully decorated horse carriage moves alongside and the tapping of hoofs get my instant attention as I arrive at sunrise, in the city of Jaipur.  Trotting through the streets of downtown, it serves as a reminder of the rich cultural past silently alive amidst the pink hues of the city….!”

One of the most loved places on the tourist circuit- The Golden Triangle, one seldom wants to miss the opportunity to visit this historical city on their tour to India.  In the ongoing global pandemic, a gradual surge is seen in domestic tourism within different countries. Indian tourists are experimenting with travel destinations and If I go by the smiling faces I encounter, on my travels within the country, I would add that they are totally enjoying it!

A short visit brought me to the city and a further twenty-minute drive took us to the residence of my co-traveler whose family were kind to host us. A famous sweets vendors shop lay en route and we treated ourselves to a breakfast of kachori and sweets, to get a taste of the local flavors. 

Jaipur- A Royal Introduction.

  1. The state capital of Rajasthan and one of the earliest planned cities of modern India, Jaipur is named after the legendary Rajput ruler, Jai Singh II who founded it. It’s a major tourist destination in the country forming a part of the Golden Triangle.
  2. Jaipur is the artwork of this brilliant ruler who was skilled in Mathematics, Astronomy and Geometry. Very few in current times know that he had Euclid’s “Elements of Geometry” translated into Sanskrit.
  3. He was also the Indian ruler who performed the much-discontinued Ashvamedha sacrifice, the ancient rite, that had not been performed for centuries. One can say that the ruler was open to modern sciences and theories but also believed in continuing traditions. These elements of his persona were notably reflected in various landscapes of the city.
  4. Visiting Jaipur becomes a lifetime memory after one looks at its beauty through the vision of the great rulers who built it, and the local population that has preserved it.

Morning at Moti Dungri and gazing through the World’s largest Sun Dial..

As a tourist, I enjoy commencing sight-seeing by visiting places of faith- A temple or other religious shrine, especially at the break of dawn. It is a great way to understand local customs and build a positive bond with the people of the land. We started with Moti Dungri, a quiet Ganesha temple situated in a corner of the city. The morning aarti was a pleasant experience. One can directly visit Jantar Mantar Observatory post-Moti Dungri, especially in the morning hours.

The astronomical knowledge and keen interest of Raja Jai Singh II come alive in this largest Sun-Dial ever constructed across the globe. We were able to behold the collection of 19 astronomical instruments used to observe celestial movements with the naked eye.  While there were other observatories built by him around Rajasthan, Jantar Mantar is included in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, making it one of the major attractions of Jaipur. The next places we visited seemed GUARDED.

Why should you plan Jaipur this Winters?

  1. In the 2008 Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Survey, Jaipur was ranked the 7th best place to visit in Asia. According to TripAdvisor’s 2015 Traveller’s Choice Awards for Destinations, Jaipur ranked 1st among the Indian destinations for the year.
  2. Jaipur is the home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites that will keep you enchanted and well managed tourist facilities are one of the strong reasons that attract international tourists.
  3. To break the myth among fellow Indians that Rajasthan is all but a desert (On a lighter note). Jaipur is home to enchanting greenery and lakes along with national parks that serve as a blend of a Historical and Natural experiences at the same time.
  4. A string of sight-seeing places that ensure more experiences in lesser time.
  5. Value for money tour as you see grandeur of Indian festivals, Living Artforms, cultural events and shows happening at various sight-seeing places, most of times.

The ‘Airs’ of Hawa Mahal and ‘High-ness’ of the City Palace along with a memorable Performance of Puppetry.

We were now riding through the oldest pocket of the city. The streets were wide and the traffic moved in batches My co-traveler realized the population of India, only when we saw the many vehicles on the road. We shared a hearty laugh at the sudden realization of the same!

 Jaipur was greener than I had imagined it to be. The walkway tunnel walls were beautifully decorated with intricate floral designs. Shops ran in a neat row, in an orderly fashion.

Our next stop was Hawa Mahal.  Called the ‘Palace of Winds’, a grand façade greeted us as we strolled along the footpath. Spread in pink, the mahal seemed to blush, just like the face of a Rajput Queen that would have peeped from one of its many windows years ago. Several tourists, we noticed, posed in colorful rented Rajasthani Attire outside, to capture happy memories of this city. The sun was overhead by now and to seek refuge we walked next to the City Palace.

Other Sightseeing options & Experiences in Jaipur.

  1. A historical guided tour which includes famous attractions like Albert Hall Museum, Patrika Gate, Jal mahal, Nahargarh Fort, Man Sagar lake, Old Stepwell- Panna Meena ka kund , along with Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and City Palace.
  2. A Cultural tour which includes visit to Jawahar Kala Kendra, Amrapali Museum, Mubarak Mahal, Gallery Artchill, Tripolia Bazaar, SRC Museum of Indology, Evening light and sound shows at monuments.
  3. An eco-tour which includes a safari in Jhalana Leopard Park, Elle Elephant Safari, Smriti Van, Nahargarh Biological Park, Ramniwas Bagh,etc.
  4. For a real experience, add Village excursions or places like Chokhi Dhani to your itinerary to get the best of culinary experiences and Traditions of Rajasthan.

The City Palace fascinated me. Visiting it with a residing royal lineage was something I had not experienced before. A ticketing counter outside was queued with tourists. We took a composite ticket which gave us access to major wings of the Palace. A live puppet show inside was amusing and kept us entertained. The next three hours of discovering the palace were culturally engaging and historically enlightening. The way of life of the Rajput rulers, their enormous contribution to Indian Heritage and Culture, and important administrative decisions left me amazed. The architectural intricacies and craftsmanship on cloth and weapon bespoke excellence. Post a day of sightseeing, we enjoyed a traditional lunch, a bouquet of authentic Rajasthani Flavors with delight. The weekend brought a spell of rain shower and the bright sunny afternoon was shadowed by brimming clouds, refreshing us as we head homewards.

Jaipur has a strong cultural vibe. All tourist facilities are upgraded as per global standards making the travel experience better. A true sense of hospitality is felt in every gesture and every place visited.  One can feel the continuation of customs and traditions religiously preserved at the societal level.  On this trip, I also got an opportunity to meet two young and talented painters Ms.Priya and Ms.Payal Meena from Jaipur, who enthralled me with their artwork and gave me an artist’s perspective of the city ( I plan to travel with them someday). My bags were brimming with souvenirs, paintings, traditional outfits, and jewelry as I packed the luggage for a return journey. Yet, I felt there was so much left that I wanted to take back with me. The warmth and affection felt in Jaipur would always be cherished!

P.S: When in Jaipur, be careful if a Royal Car just swooshes past- for, you may have just met the Prince!

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